I4o THE GAY GENIUS
bagged to be released from her profession, and the guest asked her to
write a quatrain. The courtesan wrote the following, comparing her-
self to a caged parrot (the "snow-dress maiden").
"See her turn her head and her sad feathers preen,
Dreaming of her old nest where a home had been.
Open the cage and set the snow-dress maiden free!
She will say her whole life, 'Blessed be KuanyinP "
The other scholars also wrote poems about the occasion. Su Tungpo
adds that the woman was then wearing white in mourning. Every-
body was touched and she was released.
An official life such as this demanded a great deal of trust and under-
standing from the wives of the officials. However, the problem o|
being a good wife is principally the problem of finding a good hus-
band, and conversely the problem of being a good husband is princi-
pally the problem of finding a good wife. Having a good wife is the
best guarantee against a husband's going wrong. Mrs. Su knew she
had married a popular poet and a genius, and she certainly did not
try to compete with him in literary honours. She had made up her
mind that her best job was to be a wife, a good one. She had now two
babies of her own, and as wife of a deputy-magistrate she had a comfort-
able home and enjoyed certain social honours. She was still very young,
between twenty-three and twenty-five. Her husband was brilliant, big-
hearted, fun-loving, and—what a scholar! But he had so many admirers,
men and? women! Did she not see those women on the south side
of the compound and those dinners at Wanghulou (Lakeview House)
and Yumeitang? The new chief magistrate, Chen Shiang, a good
scholar who arrived the year after them, certainly attended to a magis-
trate's social duties well, and the state courtesans were at their beck
and call. There were Chou (Pin) and Lu (Shaoching), not really
desirable company for her husband. The courtesans were accom-
plished, could sing and play stringed instruments, and some of them
could write verse. She herself could not versify, but she understood
these songs. They were growing familiar to her, for she heard hg
husband humming them. She would die of shame to sing them, foe
no respectable lady would. She felt really much more comfortable when !
her husband went to see the bare-footed monks, Huichin, Pientsai, and
others, those old men with their adorable long beards.
ft took her some years to know the depth of his character, a character
with so many facets, so easy-going and yet at times so intense and
strong-willed. She had learned by now one thing, that he could not be
influenced, and certainly there was no way of arguing with him. On